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Shuffle Up: The riddle of Zack Greinke

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It's been that type of summer in Anaheim (AP)

I'm not looking to slander every pitcher from Angels history, it just seems that way. I'll try to tackle Frank Tanana, Mike Witt and Chris Knapp before the New Year.

You should know the Shuffle Up rules by now. We're talking 5x5 roto value for the rest of the season. This isn't a keeper-league list, and it's not an A-to-Z ranking of what they've already done. I'll add comments as the day goes along, maybe tweak a ranking here and there.

Your respectful disagreement is always welcome, just make sure you defend your argument. It's good that you disagree; that's why we have a game. Just make sure you'd adding to the discussion when you comment; respect the room, gamer. And remember the golden rule: a player doesn't add 15-20 percent of bonus value just because he's on your roster.

Ranks are yours after the jump. Rosin bag sold separately.

$31 Justin Verlander
$30 Felix Hernandez
$29 Clayton Kershaw
$28 David Price
$28 Jered Weaver
$27 Cole Hamels
$26 Matt Cain
$25 R.A. Dickey
$24 Gio Gonzalez
$24 Johnny Cueto
$23 Madison Bumgarner
$22 Adam Wainwright
$21 Chris Sale
$20 Jake Peavy
$19 Stephen Strasburg
$19 Roy Halladay
$19 A.J. Burnett
$18 Zack Greinke
$18 Yovani Gallardo
$18 Matt Moore
$18 Jordan Zimmermann
$18 Mat Latos

At this stage of the game, Zack Greinke should be a fairly known commodity. He's made 264 appearances in the majors, 223 of them starts. He gave us a dominant season in 2009, winning the AL Cy Young in a runaway. He's usually an excellent source of strikeouts and K/BB ratio. Anyone who knows even a tiny bit about baseball realizes that this guy is a talented pitcher.

But is Greinke overrated? For my money, the answer is a resounding yes. The fantasy industry consistently treats this guy like he's a No. 1 arm, an elite pitcher, a perennial Cy Young candidate — and the results (other than 2009) simply haven't been there. He's been good, sure, but you're not making a fantasy profit here.

I get the sense a lot of roto players (and pundits) are still chasing Greinke's 2009 ratios (2.16 ERA, 1.07 WHIP). But stop for a moment and consider the rest of the resume. Greinke's next-best ERA in any other season is an ordinary 3.47. He's never pushed his WHIP under 1.20 in any other campaign. Other than that one dream season, Greinke has never shown up on anyone's Cy Young ballot in any year. His career ratios might surprise you (3.84/1.26); they're nothing special.

Greinke's year-and-a-half stint in Milwaukee was a tad strange: he went 15-0 at Miller Park and 10-9 everywhere else. The ERA gap was 1.57 last year, and it was similar this season. While most ballplayers are expected to hold a minor home-park bias, all else equal, it makes you wonder if there's anything else at play in this case.

The Spreadsheet Police will back up Greinke in most instances, of course. His 4.01 ERA this year is far behind his 3.00 FIP and 3.04 xFIP. Last year Greinke was 3.83 on the marquee, and 2.98 and 2.56 in the estimators. The 2010 split came out this way: 4.17 on the baseball card, 3.34 and 3.60 on the advanced-stat page. While we can't draw anything definitive from three years of data, you have to at least wonder if there's something to Greinke's case that makes him a consistent ERA disappointment. Maybe this is the opposite of the Matt Cain story.

I wonder if Greinke might be harmed by his excellent control: maybe it's possible to throw too many strikes. His career BABIP is .311 — not a crazy outlier, but higher than the league average. Now that he's 1,434 innings into this dance, maybe this is what he is, as good as it gets.

Some club is going to pay Greinke a boatload of cash this winter, pay him like a superstar pitcher. I think it's a mistake. And until he gets his bearings in the AL this summer, I'm not treating him like a fantasy ace, either.

$17 CC Sabathia
$17 Chris Capuano
$16 Cliff Lee
$16 Doug Fister
$16 Ryan Vogelsong
$15 Tim Hudson
$15 Hiroki Kuroda
$14 James Shields
$14 Paul Maholm
$14 Wade Miley
$13 Clay Buchholz
$13 Kris Medlen
$12 Max Scherzer
$12 Jeff Samardzija
$12 Jon Niese
$12 Jaime Garcia
$12 Jon Lester

The Cliff Lee bad-luck story might be a little overblown. His 3.83 ERA isn't that much different from the 3.59 FIP, and I'm not going to give him a total pass for the gopher ball problem. A lot of homers are born from a pitcher making a mistake or badly missing his intended target. … Most of the NL-to-AL crossovers have been a mess this year, especially the in-season guys (Greinke, Sanchez, Dempster). No real surprise: the American League is the hitter's league, and not just because of the DH. A rare exception to the rule has been Hiroki Kuroda. I didn't expect much from the 37-year-old, especially in that division and ballpark, but he's been lights out in his past 16 turns (9-1 record, 2.22 ERA, 18 walks, 91 strikeouts). A depressed hit rate (.265) has partially fueled the story, but Kuroda has been inducing plenty of weak contact (14 percent line-drives). Tip of the cap for a job well done. … Jaime Garcia is an impossible rank at the moment. He missed 10 weeks with a shoulder problem, then shocked everyone with a 10-strikeout gem against the Pirates on Sunday. My general reaction to this sort of outing is to shift to sell mode, but I realize the trading deadline has come and gone in a lot of leagues. He'll be tested at Cincinnati this week.

$11 Mike Fiers
$11 Kyle Lohse
$11 Edwin Jackson
$11 Ian Kennedy
$11 Jeremy Hellickson
$10 Lance Lynn
$10 James McDonald
$10 Tommy Hanson
$10 Ben Sheets
$10 Matt Harvey
$9 C.J. Wilson
$9 Josh Johnson
$9 Carlos Villanueva
$9 Chad Billingsley
$9 Hisashi Iwakuma
$8 Yu Darvish
$8 Derek Holland
$8 Patrick Corbin
$8 Bartolo Colon
$7 Tim Lincecum
$7 Joe Blanton
$7 Jake Westbrook

This is our big-name, bad-result tier, with disappointing aces like Wilson, Darvish and Lincecum staring back at us. When does a bad run become a bad season? I'm not waiting around for miracles. You can do what you like. … Hisashi Iwakuma was discussed in Saturday's Closing Time, documenting his strange starter/reliever splits this season. He's been terrific in his eight turns, after a mediocre run in the bullpen. It's been suggested that Eric Wedge's erratic usage pattern for Iwakuma might have caused the messy relief numbers. I expect the righty to have a nice turn Wednesday at home against Cleveland.

$6 Clayton Richard
$6 Jason Vargas
$6 Dan Haren
$6 Wei-Yin Chen
$6 Justin Masterson
$6 Phil Hughes
$6 Wandy Rodriguez
$6 Homer Bailey
$5 Josh Beckett
$5 Ryan Dempster
$5 Erik Bedard
$5 Trevor Cahill
$5 Brandon McCarthy
$5 Vance Worley
$5 Matt Harrison
$5 Francisco Liriano
$5 Mike Minor
$5 Dan Straily

Clayton Richard finally climbed over the 2.0 threshold for his K/BB ratio, so he's worth inclusion in the streamer pool. But when you strike out a mere 12 percent of the batters you face (in the NL for crying out loud), you don't offer much upside. … Josh Beckett could very well be next year's A.J. Burnett — a somewhat-volatile but undeniably-talented name brand who needs to get out of the hitter league, not to mention his fishbowl city. The Red Sox will certainly make him available, even if they deny it publicly. … Erik Bedard has made the most of PNC Park (2.63/1.12), but the results haven't traveled (6.98/1.82). His walks and strikeouts are fairly static in both places, but he's been homer-prone on the road and his visiting hit rate is out of whack as well.

$4 Mark Buehrle
$4 Zach McAllister
$4 Gavin Floyd
$4 Marco Estrada
$4 Jeremy Guthrie
$4 Scott Diamond
$3 Lucas Harrell
$3 Mike Leake
$3 Bronson Arroyo
$3 Ross Detwiler
$3 Jarrod Parker
$3 Joe Saunders
$2 Anibal Sanchez
$2 Tommy Milone
$2 Bud Norris
$2 Alex Cobb
$2 Jose Quintana
$2 Ricky Romero
$2 Edinson Volquez
$2 Henderson Alvarez
$2 Ricky Nolasco

Hats off to Lucas Harrell for finding a way to win games on that Double-A roster. … Edinson Volquez has only won three of 13 home starts despite decent ratios, and he's been a mess on the road (5.60/1.69), in part because of the expected homer spike. … Thanks for the memories, Mayday Milone. You'll definitely be receiving a playoff share, where applicable. … The supporting cast in Kansas City is fairly lean at the moment, but Jeremy Guthrie is simply happy to be out of pitcher-ruining Colorado. His August has been outstanding (28.2 IP, 17 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, 23 K), and it's come against four contending clubs. … The Diamond Dogs are howling for underrated lefty Scott Diamond, but I can't go past four bucks. When soft-tossers eventually hit the wall, the scoreboard lights up. And strikeouts definitely matter in the 5x5 world.

$1 Franklin Morales
$1 Ivan Nova
$1 Jeff Karstens
$1 Jeff Niemann
$1 Wade LeBlanc
$1 Blake Beavan
$1 Felix Doubront
$1 Johan Santana
$0 Jhoulys Chacin
$0 Jason Marquis
$0 Will Smith
$0 Scott Feldman
$0 Freddy Garcia
$0 Kevin Millwood
$0 Aaron Harang
$0 Nathan Eovaldi
$0 Eric Stults
$0 Kyle Kendrick
-$1 Ervin Santana
-$2 Drew Pomeranz
-$3 Roy Oswalt
-$3 Rick Porcello
-$3 Jordan Lyles
-$4 Samuel Deduno
-$4 Barry Zito
-$5 Luke Hochevar
-$5 Ubaldo Jimenez

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